Night shelters supported by Church Urban Fund are set to increase their provision to nearly 4,000 bed spaces this winter in response to a growing problem of homelessness.

More than 800 volunteers are set to work in Manchester, Salford, Birmingham, Mansfield, and Great Yarmouth night shelters this winter backed by joint ventures between CUF and Church of England dioceses.

The night shelters are more than just somewhere to sleep, they are about hospitality and service

In Manchester and Salford, a night shelter offering 12 beds for seven nights a week will double the length of time it operates to six months when it opens its doors at the end of this month after a successful pilot at the start of this year.

Greater Manchester Winter Night Shelter, based in seven locations will offer 24-hour care to homeless guests including an evening meal, bed and breakfast, and advice and support during the day at the Booth Centre in the city.

The shelter is run as a partnership between Greater Together Manchester, a joint venture between CUF and Manchester Diocese and other organisations including the Christian homelessness charity Housing Justice.

The expansion comes after the number of people counted as rough sleepers on one night in Manchester rose to 70 last year compared to seven in 2010.

Lily Axworthy, Development Officer for Greater Together Manchester, said the night shelter was responding to a ‘crisis situation’ in rough sleeping in the city.

She said: “The night shelters are more than just somewhere to sleep, they are about hospitality and service.

“Homeless people are welcome as guests, and all, including volunteers, sit down for an evening meal together.

“As part of the trial earlier this year, guests staying in the shelters were offered 24 hour wrap around care with support from the Booth Centre during the day in the form of help in job searching and finding long term accommodation. We will be offering this service again this winter.”

Birmingham Churches Winter Night Shelter, a collaboration of individuals, churches and charities including Housing Justice, with 14 churches acting as hosts, will open from January to March offering 12 beds a night and supported by around 400 volunteers.

Sarah Turner, Development Worker for Thrive Together Birmingham, the CUF joint venture with Birmingham Diocese that is supporting the project, said: “We are really clear that this isn’t just about providing a bed space for people while they are with us.

“Guests and volunteers all sit down and eat together each night, sometimes there are activities like pool or table tennis that guests and volunteers do together. What we are trying to do is to create a place of community, a place of hospitality and a place where relationship can happen.”

Mansfield Winter Night Shelter, a partnership between Transforming Notts Together, housing and support organisation Home Group, Mansfield District Council and Mansfield Baptist Church will open on December 2, offering 12 beds a night at Mansfield Baptist Church on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, until February.  A new winter night shelter project, The Living Room, based in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk with the backing of Imagine Norfolk Together, is also planned for the start of December.

Canon Paul Hackwood, Executive Director of Church Urban Fund said “We know that helping homeless people and rough sleepers is not a simple task and involves so much more than a bed for the night. But this is a vital start in the process of repairing broken relationships and being alongside those in need to help them take control of their lives. We are so grateful to the huge number of volunteers from churches and elsewhere who are part of the team helping to make this happen.”

CUF is encouraging more churches across the country to get involved and has produced a briefing on homelessness to help inform and encourage support. CUF is also running the Advent Sleepout Challenge as a fundraising initiative to help raise funds for work with homeless people.